As we near the end of Ramadan, many Muslims are preparing for Eid al-fitr celebrations by participating in the cultural traditions of baking sweets. It is always a rushed time amidst heightened religious observance in the blessed final ten nights of the month but, every year without fail, our dear mum finds time to make big batches of traditional Egyptian Eid biscuits to share with family, friends and neighbours.
There are many varieties of Eid sweets that you may find in Egyptian households: kahk – a yeasted biscuit, generally filled with Turkish delight and walnuts; petit fours; ara’eesh-bel-‘agwa – a flaky biscuit stuffed with a sweet date paste; and ghorayeba – the soft, decadent, Arab version of a soft butter biscuit.
As many may attest, Eid biscuit making days mean serious work. Nonetheless, it is a labour of love and, for many, it is a cause for gathering the family together. A few helping hands both lightens the load and makes it a more social and enjoyable experience.
This year, we’ve made petit fours and ‘agwa, uncharacteristically foregoing our favorite and most Eid-ish biscuit, Egyptian kahk. The biscuits are an absolute treat with a cup of tea after iftaar time, but we really look forward to having a few (or ten) with a morning coffee when Ramadan is over. Don’t get us wrong – we absolutely love Ramadan and the spiritual atmosphere surrounding it – but we will surely cherish that long-awaited caffeine hit on the morning of Eid al-Fitr.
We’ve decided to share our mother’s beautiful petit four recipe. It was quite the mission to convert measurements from her organic methods of using odd mugs and spoons, with a healthy dose of “just a splash of this” instructions, into consistent metric measurements.
We hope you will enjoy these morsels of delicious buttery biscuits as much as we have. They make an elegant addition, too, when sandwiched with a jam (or any alternative spreads that you love… Nutella, anyone?), and rolled with crushed pistachios.
Much to the disapproval of our traditionalist mother, we’re considering filling a few with salted caramel. You really can’t go wrong with salted caramel, right?
So, dear Sajjelers, we ask you to put your creative cap on and think up some crazy, alternative filling ideas. What would you stick these petit fours together with?
- 500g unsalted butter, softened
- 170g icing sugar
- 830g* self-raising flour
- 3 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
*less or more flour may be required
1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C (fan-forced) and prepare multiple trays. There is no need to grease or line the trays, in our experience.
2. Combine butter and sugar in a large bowl with electric beaters on high until very pale and creamy, making sure to scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally.
3. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla extract.
4. Begin to add the flour one cup at a time, using both hands to combine.
5. Before adding the final cup of flour, first test the dough to see if it is needed. To do this, roll a handful of the dough between your palms, when the dough pulls away from fingers and is no longer sticking, it is ready. If dough is still sticky, add remaining flour or extra if required.
6. Using either a large piping tip or a piping bag with a large star tip, begin to pipe small star shaped biscuits onto large trays with at least 2 cm in between biscuits.
7. Bake for around 10-15 minutes or until lightly golden.
8. Allow petit fours to cool on trays before gently transferring onto cooling rack.
9. Pair the biscuits and stick them together with strawberry or apricot jam. Roll the edges in crushed pistachios (or your preferred decorative ingredient), then store in an airtight container.
Eid Mubarak and happy baking!
By Nisren and Mariam Metwally
Sister duo Nisren and Mariam Metwally are the team behind @OnceUponaKitchen, a food focused Instagram account that allows them to share their passion for cooking and baking with the world. They also administer a Facebook group by the same name for like-minded foodies to share their food creations and adventures.